Five arrested in Raleigh protests for workers' and students' rig - WNCN: News, Weather

Five arrested in Raleigh protests for workers' and students' rights

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Carissa Morrison Carissa Morrison
Dhruv Pathak Dhruv Pathak
Jessica Injejikian Jessica Injejikian
Talia Alsous Talia Alsous
Tristan Munchel Tristan Munchel

Interest groups from across the state staged a protest in downtown Raleigh, expressing dissatisfaction with the state legislature on Wednesday.

Concerns over Voter ID, reduced education funding and immigration brought out more than 100 protestors.

The North Carolina Student Power Union held one of several rallies. It began at the North Carolina State University Belltower Wednesday afternoon and continued to the Civitas Institute, Moore Square Park and ultimately, the legislature.

Five protesters were arrested during the protest after they tried to get past officers and walk into the legislative building.

Talia Zaina Alsous, Dhruv Atul Pathak, Carissa Ellen Morrison, Tristan Munchel, and Jessica Ann Injejikian were all arrested at 16 West Jones Street. Their arrest warrants state all five were engaging in conduct creating the threat of imminent fighting or violence.

Civitas Institute is a conservative think tank funded by state budget director Art Pope.

Organizers say students protested "proposed budget cuts to public education and services, voter suppression efforts, and rising tuition."

"We're joining in solidarity with all the other groups who feel shut out by McCrory's budget and the political climate in general," said Emily Morton-Smith, a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill. "As students, our struggles are not separate from those of workers, immigrants, women, LGBTQ folks, people of color, or any other marginalized group."

UNC Greensboro sophomore Dafne Sánchez added, "It doesn't make any sense to take away funding, increase class sizes, fire professors and expect education to function the same."

"If we sincerely want to improve our economy and our state, we should prioritize an education that empowers all the people it serves."

Civitas Institute Director of Communications Jim Tynen said the protests outside the Civitas office reminded him of 1960s activism.

"It was funny how they mimic the '60s in their protests, though the times are far different," Tynen said. "I was in college back then. Don't let anyone kid you; going on a protest march is a lot of fun. These marchers...looked like they were having a great time."

"They got to vent their frustrations and feel as if they were confronting power, without, of course, the slightest danger of suffering any harm," Tynen said.

Of the protesters, Tynen said, "they've been misled about what the real costs of college are. They are venting their frustrations in the wrong direction, however."

In April, students organized teach-ins, call-ins, speak-outs and press conferences across the state.

Meanwhile, El Pueblo, a group committed to causes important to the Hispanic community, also joined in.  A spokesperson for the group said a bill called the "Reclaim N.C. Act" that passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday was a mixed bag for the Hispanic community.

The Act would grant restricted driving permits to undocumented immigrants, but also grant police the authority to stop people on the street, with probable cause, and ask them for their immigration status.

"We will be very pleased that undocumented...the community here that is undocumented, can work and actually be a part of the community," El Pueblo Youth Program Coordinator Miguel Figueras said of the driving permit provision.  But he expressed concern about another part of the bill giving police the authority to ask for someone's immigration status.

"There are people being stopped because of their color, because of being brown, and that's something we really need to work on as a state," Figueras said.

Juan Miranda, a UNC Greensboro student who moved here with his family from Ecuador 13 years ago, was more blunt, saying lawmakers need to realize the state's demographics are changing.

"I mean, we have people in power right now that look the same.  They're all very wealthy white males and they want to keep North Carolina, make North Carolina look the way they do, the way they grew up seeing it," Miranda said.

The bill's primary sponsor, Republican Representative Harry Warren tells WNCN the bill is not about immigration, but about public safety.  He calls it a compromise between several different stakeholder groups to make North Carolina's roads safer.

Over the phone Wednesday night, Warren did acknowledge the phrase "probable cause" needs clarification.  He hopes to introduce an amendment to the bill to better specify the language.

The five arrested Wednesday evening have been released from jail.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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